My CES adventure

George Schweitzer's experience at CES 2010.

Vegas, baby! Long lines, high prices, sore feet. If there was any real cutback in the show, it was by consolidating some exhibit space, but it was still crowded and lively.

If you've seen any coverage from CES at all, then you know the headliner was 3D television. And though what I saw from Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, LG, and others was terrific, there is one thing I just don't get yet: wearing the glasses and concentrating at the screen. It's one thing to be at the movies, in the theater with a huge screen and a shared audience experience. And for gamers, wow, this is awesome--but we watch television differently. I like anything that brings more enjoyment and excitement to the set, so that's a big plus, and I would wear the glasses for a special event. Maybe we will get used to them.

But the headline here is the sign that TV is bigger and better than ever--even thinner, too! The pictures in any dimension--HD, 3D, standard-definition--were spectacular and that bodes well for content companies like CBS.

"Connected television" is now the norm. Internet-connected TV is now available in most new sets, so it wasn't the big deal it was last year. This year Boxee made a splash with its sleek new interface and the D-Link Boxee Box .

Intel showed off some of the cool widgets and viewing guides of the future that we have been working on with them. This interactive capability allows for more viewer control of the video-search function with a very smart-looking interface. Those guys are really intelligent and are into the consumer viewing experience.

While the home automation show-within-a-show didn't break anything new, it did feature more "green" tech and home monitoring and networking systems. And no exhibit would be complete without the always-entertaining remote control shade demos.

The other standout device I loved is the new Sony Dash , which arrives this April for $199.99. It's a sleeker version of our old pal the Chumby . Sony did it right: terrific design, expanded applications, and great versatility. This Wi-Fi device is a gem and I see it fitting in nicely on bedside tables, in kitchens, and at offices. It will be a delight to developers, who can make even more apps for the system. I have always been intrigued by what Chumby was, and now that it is migrating from the bean-bag appliance to a much spiffier and versatile unit with a huge CE partner, I think there is great promise there even beyond what we see.

If I you permit me, my corporate cousins at CNET did an awesome job covering all aspects of the show and you should check out the mounds of great CES info. Their extensive coverage paid off with impressive usage numbers: page views for their CES package increased by 46 percent compared with last year, video streams jumped 58 percent, and unique users were up by 42 percent. (Hey, I live in a ratings world, so I couldn't resist sharing these!)

Overall, the best takeaway from the show was optimism, reflected by the strengthening of the marketplace and the interest in all forms of video. That's a great sign.

(Note: Ultimately, my measure of best booth is rated by the thickness and comfort of the carpet, and again this year, the winners were Microsoft and Intel. Those plush, blue, pile rugs sat on about 6 inches of top-notch foam padding. Boy, did I like stopping there!)

About the author

    George Schweitzer's position as chief marketing officer at CBS gives him a unique opportunity not only to observe but also to help shape the ways technology is altering the television industry. A communications major at Boston University who joined CBS after graduation some 30 years ago, George is also an unabashed technology geek who specializes in the latest home automation and entertainment gear.

     

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